Encouraging Students through ‘Meal on Monday’

For most students, Mondays are accompanied by groans and hurried wishes for the day to be over. The students at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, also wish for their Monday classes to speed by—but for a different reason. For students of the campus ministry at Dalhousie, Monday nights are met with excitement for the campus ministry’s Meal on Monday program, which brings encouragement and nourishment to students at the campus Multifaith Centre.

Attending university or college is an exciting opportunity to further develop faith and discover the ways in which God is sovereign and at work across all areas of study and endeavor. On campuses across North America—including Dalhousie University—the students, faculty, and staff of Christian Reformed campus ministries seek to follow God and grow in their faithful pursuit of calling and vocation. These are places where students like Ali can make friends, find mentors, and get connected with a local church and broader community.

Ali, a Sunni Muslim refugee from Syria, found himself alone in Nova Scotia as his mother and sister remained in a Palestinian refugee camp and his father and brother remained in Syria. While grieving the separation from his loved ones, Ali also faced a troublesome year at Dalhousie University. A fellow student was murdered, the school faced a mass-shooting threat, a student died as a result of binge-drinking, and Ali lost a peer to cancer. Confronting these sorrows, Ali found himself needing a safe space to grieve.

Not only did Ali long for a community with which to grieve, he longed to quench his curiosity about Christianity. He started attending the Christian Reformed Campus Ministry’s Meal on Monday program, started by campus minister Rev. Dan Brown.

The Meal on Monday program provides college students with two forms of nourishment. First, they are nourished physically through a delicious home-cooked meal. Second, they are nourished spiritually through discussions on faith and college life. Students like Ali experience encouragement, prayer, and shalom. Through this program, Ali and his peers gained a community with whom to grieve as well as the opportunity to dig deeper into Christianity.

The Meal on Monday program not only nourishes the students eating the meals but also the volunteers who serve the meals. The program relies on volunteers from nearby churches to cook for the students, enhancing the community of faith throughout Halifax. Bonnie, a widowed senior with restricted mobility who lives 50 km away from the university, asked to cook a meal for the 25 students in attendance. Because she could not drive, Brown delivered the meal for her. This provided Bonnie the chance to glorify God through service. Brown observes: “It was also important—and this is perhaps the old parish minister in me—that there was this opportunity for someone with limited range and mobility to serve in the kingdom in such a wonderfully giving way.”

The Meal on Monday program, by offering tangible and spiritual nourishment to both those eating and making the meals, is one example of how campus ministries connect with students, faculty, and staff on over 35 campuses in North America. Support of these ministries is a partnership between Home Missions, local classes, and churches. These ministries have been a part of the Christian Reformed Church’s greater mission to facilitate Christian community on university campuses, and with those living in surrounding communities, for over 75 years.

Pray with us

“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds . . . let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25

Please pray for ministries across the United States and Canada:

  • for students and others discovering God’s call in their life;
  • for pastors and church planters working in challenging places;
  • for congregations and church members who are joining God on mission.

About the Author

Brooke Bonnema

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